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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Fueled by news coverage of an exceedingly tan New Jersey woman, New York officials have agreed to ban children 16 years old and younger from indoor tanning, according to the Senate majority leader.
Sen. Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, told The Associated Press there is a deal between the Senate and the Assembly's Democratic majority to pass the bill before the June 21 end of session. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill.
New York currently bars indoor tanning for children under 14, but allows 14- to 17-year-olds indoor tanning with parental permission.
California is the only state that bans the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 31 states and a few counties restrict some minors, the group said.
"Indoor tanning causes cancer in too many people and children are at the greatest risk," said Blair Horner, vice president for advocacy for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey.
Horner cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that showed nearly 10 percent of 14 year olds, 12 percent of 15 year olds and 15 percent of 16 year olds have used indoor tanning facilities. The busiest times are in the spring, as boys and girls prepare for school dances and for what's called a "base tan" for the summer.
"By banning indoor tanning for those 16 years old and younger, the legislation provides significant cancer protections for those teens," Horner said Thursday. "However, we believe that 17 year olds deserve the same protections as other minors and we will continue to pursue legislation to protect all young people from the dangers of indoor tanning."
The American Cancer Society blames the popularity of tanning booths for the rising number of cases of skin cancer among young people. It's a claim disputed by tanning booth operators, who say the artificial rays produced in the booths are safe if used properly. John Overstreet of the national Indoor Tanning Association noted the booths provide its users with Vitamin D, and health agencies have noted a Vitamin D deficiency is now common.
"This is a disservice to parents who do their homework," said James Oliver, CEO of Beach Bum Tanning with 53 salons in New York and New Jersey. He said the state law provided greater control of tanning than teens who will now lay outside unsupervised.
He blamed the cosmetics industry which dominates sunblock sales and has waged a public relations campaign to persuade people that sunshine and tanning is bad for them. Instead, he said Vitamin D deficiency in America is widespread.
He said New York's law will cost salons about 5 percent to 10 percent in sales to that age group, but the stigma that the booths are harmful could cut sales in every age group.
The bill's sponsors, Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Republican Sen. Charles Fuschillo, both of Long Island, noted that the World Health Organization classified tanning devices as a carcinogen in 2009.
The very tan New Jersey mother, Patricia Krentcil, was featured in several New York tabloids after she was photographed with her fair-skinned child. Labeled "tanorexic" by several media outlets, Krentcil had defended her frequent tanning, saying it made her feel rejuvenated.
Police accused her of bringing her daughter into a tanning booth, which she denies. Her case is before a grand jury.